Originally Posted by Living Proof
I'm not sure you've ever been to Elk and experienced their lifts. On the east (original and base lodge side), there are 2 double chairs that have been the for the 40 years that I've skied. Very slow and tend to stop frequently. Elk has a one (non high speed) quad lift on the north side. I will guarantee you that I can ski many more runs in 4 hours (non-peak, non-weekend) at my home Pa mountain with a high speed lift, and the same vertical rise, than I can at Elk. The story that is told is Elk does not want high speeds so that the number of skiers coming down results in less crowded trails. That may or may not be the case, but, I appreciate the reduced on-hill skier density.
You obviously ignored the part of my post where I said when they are both running AT CAPACITY. When running below capacity, a high speed lift will obviously be faster. I have been to Elk, and I've been to many other mountains with fixed and detachable lifts. If you look at a quad's uphill capacity, it will generally be the same per hour, regardless of whether it is a high speed or fixed grip. That is because the detachable's higher speed is offset by a greater distance between chairs, which ends up evening out the overall capacity of the lift. So on a busy weekend, you will get in exactly as many runs per hour on a high speed quad as on a fixed grip. The difference is that on the high speed, you will spend more of the time in line, while on the fixed grip you will spend more time sitting on the lift.
When a mountain says they are sticking with fixed grip in order to keep skier density down, that's just BS from the marketing dept. Like I said, the uphill capacity of a fixed and detachable is generally the same, meaning at capacity, the skier density is the same. But a new detachable lift is a multimillion dollar investment. And the yearly maintenance on a detachable is roughly five times that of a fixed grip lift. Obviously they're not going to say they're not upgrading because its too expensive, so they spin this "skier density" story, which the uninformed masses swallow without question.
All that being said, I prefer high speeds, hands down. I try to ski as much as possible when the mountain is below capacity, making a high speed by far the better option. And when the mountain is at capacity, I'm going to spend 20 minutes from the end of one run to the beginning of the next. I'd rather spend more of that 20 minutes in a relatively sheltered lift line, surrounded by other 98.6 degree bodies, than up in the air exposed to the cold and the wind with only 1 or 2 other people to shield me from it.